Staring at a garden overtaken by weeds, my first thought was I needed an herbicide to get rid of them. Little did I know a generic herbicides is not effective for all weeds. Some weeds are more hardy and difficult to get rid of. In order to do a proper job, I needed to identify the weeds first. The ‘pre-work’ takes some effort. However, a generic herbicide would have yielded mediocre results and posed damage to other plants in the garden.
Most of us associate execution with action. What we need to beware is that action without focus yields mediocre results and in some situations, failure. Instead, we need to do a better job in linking execution with results by taking a close look at the causality link between the two. The target result is more than a number, it drives the execution tact. Let’s use a company’s goal for revenue growth to illustrate why successful execution begins with results.
As marketing plays a key role in growing revenue, the team meets and discusses the marketing plan. The team brainstorms ideas for campaigns, advertising media, budget required and so on. There are many options to increase revenue. Each option calls for different actions and timelines for execution.
In order to develop a sound execution plan, marketing needs to delve into more details on which market segments present the most promising opportunity, which products carry more appeal, or whether new complementary products should be developed to expand the product portfolio.
The company could focus on one activity or do a combination of the above options. The required resources are quite different for each option.
- Targeted market segments. Identifying the most promising market segments starts with a match of the segment needs with the product offerings. Past performance sheds light on the revenue potential for the target market segments. With the information, marketing is able to gauge the magnitude of the revenue growth potential. The revenue potential is the end result and the marketing efforts would be fine-tuned accordingly.
- Select product push. Placing a select group of products on a major marketing campaign is a way to reach a broader market. On the other hand, this option might be more effective if it is targeted at specific market segments. Similar to the first option, an analysis of the sales history for the selected products and their market share would reveal where the growth opportunities are. Subsequent target results could be determined and the corresponding marketing plans are designed.
- New complementary products. Developing new products takes on a very different time horizon from the first two options. From the marketing perspective, a brand new message needs to be developed to build market awareness. There is also a need to conduct an evaluation of the target market. The size and characteristics of the target market enable marketing to estimate a realistic revenue target. This in turn influences the type of marketing campaign and the budget required.
The work that goes into the assessment of each option facilitates the determination of the target results that could be delivered. If marketing charged ahead without doing the preliminary assessment, it would end up spreading its effort on all three options. The final outcome might not be as desirable.
The high level revenue growth target sets the overall direction. However, successful execution requires effort devoted upfront to determine realistic results for each tact. These target results help to focus and refine the execution. With a better defined execution plan, effort would not be spent on ineffective action.